Seminar Details

Feeding in Syrup: Fluid mechanical constraints on planktonic life




Prof. Thomas Kiørboe - Technical University of Denmark


Zooplankton, from protists to copepods, gather prey from a viscous and dilute environment. To cover their needs they must daily clear a volume of sticky water for prey that corresponds to about 1.000.000 times their own body(cell) volume. Flagellates either filter prey out of suspension or they directly intercept their prey, but the anticipated prey encounter mechanisms are incompatible with the laws of physics. Similarly, remote prey detection through chemo-sensing as described for copepods appear unfeasible. I will show high speed videos of prey encounters in flagellates and copepods, visualizations of the flow generated by feeding zooplankton, and describe the problems in understanding the physics of feeding in small plankton. In some cases we have discovered the mechanisms by which zooplankton beat viscosity, in other cases we have so far only identified the problem. The seminar will be rich in movies and light on physics such that everyone should be able to follow and enjoy.

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